Re: Collaboration with drug industry won’t affect clinical decisions, says new guide
BMJ April Fool’s news regarding collaboration with the drug industry
Clare Dyer reported on a new guideline to promote collaboration between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry, urging doctors not to be “tempted to accept the negative myths about cooperating with industry”.(1) It is backed by a huge number of major UK bodies: the BMA, the Department of Health, the NHS Confederation, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the the Royal College of Nursing amongst others, despite containing misleading assertions.(2) For example, “4. Industry plays a valid and important role in the provision of medical education … “ and “6. Medical representatives can be a useful resource for healthcare professionals …”
We can only assume that the BMJ published this on the 2nd as April Fool’s Day fell on a Sunday this year. We are worried that BMJ readers might have missed the joke, or will find that the joke will be on patients.
Doctors should not be tempted to accept the positive myths about the industry. Those who seek to defend its important role should not disremember that too many companies still exhibit poor records of ethics. GlaxoSmithKline recently agreed to pay $3bn to settle civil and criminal investigations into its sales practices for numerous drugs, its fourth such case since April 2008, surpassing the previous record of $2.3bn by Pfizer in 2009.(3)
Cuddly collaboration with persisting recidivists would be taking forgiveness and ‘second chances’ too far, once again.(4)
1 Dyer C. Collaboration with drug industry won’t affect clinical decisions, says new guide. BMJ 2012;344:e2489 (2 April 2012)
2 Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. Guidance on collaboration between healthcare professionals and the pharmaceutical industry. 29 March 2012 Available at http://www.abpi.org.uk/our-work/library/guidelines/Pages/collaboration-g...
3 Braillon A. Drug industry is now biggest defrauder of US government. BMJ 2012;344:d8219
4 Mulholland H. David Cameron: Andy Coulson deserves to be given a second chance. The Guardian 17 January 2011. Available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jan/17/david-cameron-andy-coulso... Accessed 14 April 2012
Competing interests: SB is a committee member of Healthwatch, a charity ‘for treatments that work’”